I remember back when I was just a wee groovy lass in the 1970s, a huge fad for indoor gardeners was DIY terrariums: small to medium sized glass or plastic bowls landscaped with river rocks, moss, dirt, assorted succulents and other low-maintenance plants. Every 70s home (and therapist's office) seemed to have one (usually displayed directly below the giant macrame owl).
But terrariums date back even further than the 1970s. According to gardening lore, terrariums were created quite by accident in the late 19th century when gardening guru Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward noticed a fern sprout inside of a corked bottle which he had placed in a hibernating chrysalis.
Terrariums, or "Wardian cases" as they were called back in the day quickly gained popularity in Victorian England, but faded just as fast. Becoming popular once again in the 1970s and fading just as fast (once again), the terrarium seems to be making yet another comeback, no doubt because creating a terrarium is cheap, easy and fun.
How To Create An Open Air Terrarium
The beauty of making a terrarium is that it is literally a mini, low maintenance indoor garden of greenery that fits with just about any style of home decor and can be designed in a myriad of different ways, and so many items can be picked up at the dollar store for next to nothing. Here's what you need to create a terrarium of your own.
Materials Needed For Your DIY Terrarium:
Once you’re happy with your arrangement, place your terrarium in indirect sunlight. You don’t want to overexpose the plants and have them dry out and die.
A fun place to find decorative items for your terrarium is in the aquarium section at your local pet store! You can also find sweet fairy items at your local craft stores, too.
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Maintenance is minimal with a terrarium, but you do want to follow a couple of rules. Water your terrarium about once a week, using roughly 2 tablespoons of water, depending on the size. An open air terrarium doesn’t need much more than that. Also, if you see any dead or dying leaves, give them a snip; you don’t want your terrarium to overgrow or become unruly.
Little terrariums made out of pudding dishes or wine glasses (picked up for cheap at dollar stores or thrift stores) make great party favors, table centerpieces, desk accessories and even hostess gifts! How about using clear plastic bowls and letting the little ones put together their own terrariums? This is perfect to keep them entertained on a summer afternoon or as a birthday party or classroom craft, all while learning a little bit of botany, too!
This DIY is for open air terrariums, but you can make a terrarium using a closed container as well. Want to learn more about that? Check out how the Gardenista does it.
This infographic on how to build your own terrarium puts it all together in one easy to follow snapshot: